The Horseman

Brigadier General R. W. Paterson
6th (Fort Garry Horse) Battalion Paterson

I told him [Col. MacDonald] the whole story of the [Canadian Cavalry Brigade] and how they would like to be under command of a Canadian. He intends seeing the Bde. before going back to London. I told him everyone swears by Col. Paterson.

(Lt-Col. Beer, Diary, 15 July 1917)

Born on 22 October 1876 in Guelph, Ontario, Robert Walter Paterson founded the Fort Garry Horse in 1912. He had moved to Manitoba in 1902 and worked as a bank manager and manufacturer. In August 1914, he organized the 6th Battalion from Western cavalry militia units, including the Fort Garry Horse, 18th Mounted Rifles, 20th Border Horse, 22nd Saskatchewan Light Horse and 32nd Manitoba Horse.

6thIn February 1916, the 6th was renamed Fort Garry Horse and joined the Canadian Cavalry Brigade in France, under the command of Brigadier General Jack Seely, an influential British Liberal member of Parliament Paterson remained  in command of regiment until 20 May 1918, when he was promoted to brigadier general and replaced of Seely.

Their very similar last names and reversed first initials meant he was frequently confused with Lieutenant Colonel William Reginald Patterson of the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles.

Multiple times wounded in action, Paterson had received the Distinguished Service Order in January 1918:

By his daring reconnaissances and careful organisation he ensured the success of a raid against four lines of enemy defences. He personally reconnoitred the point of attack with an utter disregard of his personal safety.

In 1924, Paterson became president of the “On-to-the-Bay Association” and promoted the development of northern Manitoba. He was credited with mobilizing public support ant ensuring the completion of the Hudson’s Bay railway from Churchill, Manitoba.

He died in Winnipeg on 26 March 1936.


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